Native son of New Orleans installed to head archdiocese

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) — As a native New Orleanian, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond had walked through the front doors of venerable St. Louis Cathedral hundreds of times as a seminarian, priest and auxiliary bishop. But as applause erupted inside a packed cathedral Aug. 20, he suddenly realized he was walking not only into the cathedral but also into history.

Archbishop Aymond, 59, became the first New Orleans native to be installed as archbishop in the 216-year history of the local church since the formal establishment of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas in 1793.

Afterward, Archbishop Aymond was at a loss for words. “It’s just overwhelming,” he said in the cathedral rectory after the Mass. “I still can’t believe that I am the archbishop of New Orleans, but I think I am.”

Inside the rectory, there was another equally amazing sight: The four living archbishops of New Orleans stood side by side, trading quips with each other. New Orleans is believed to be the only U.S. diocese ever to have four living archbishops: Archbishop Philip M. Hannan, 96, who served from 1965 until he retired in December 1988; Archbishop Francis B. Schulte, 83, 1989-2002; Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, 76, 2002-09; and Archbishop Aymond.

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